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Putin Orders Action Against Bird Flu --> Woman holds a rooster during an outbreak of bird flu in August 2005 (AFP) 10 January 2006 -- President Vladimir Putin has ordered the Russian government to prepare a plan of action to fight possible fresh outbreaks of bird flu in Russia.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting on 10 January, Putin said special measures must include more stringent health and hygiene checks at marketplaces and on national borders, as well as building up stocks of vaccines.

Earlier on 10 January, a senior regional official in Ukraine said that bird flu had been confirmed in three poultry farms in southern Crimea. In all, the Ukrainian authorities have confirmed 14 outbreaks of the deadly H5N1 strain of the disease.

Meanwhile, authorities in countries around Turkey -- including Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia -- say they are taking urgent measures to prevent a spread of the disease, which has already infected at least 14 people in Turkey.

(AFP/RIA Novosti)